On November 19, 2014, CSLEA sent a cease and desist letter to DSH demanding that that the Department immediately cease any consideration of replacing HPO jobs with inferior private security. Not only is this insulting to the Hospital Police Officers who dedicate their lives to the Department, it is also troubling, because the Department is stating that it may need to hire private security as a result of HPO vacancies at Napa State Hospital.
To the credit of NSH, NSH has requested more HPO positions as it is currently understaffed by approximately 36 budgeted HPO positions. Additionally, NSH has requested a recruitment and retention differential for HPOs to assist in hiring and retaining qualified HPOs. Currently, it is very difficult to recruit and retain HPOs due to the HPO salary, which is lower than most neighboring law enforcement agencies.
Rather than look at private security as the remedy, CSLEA implores the Department to dedicate itself to adequately staffing NSH with additional HPOs and making HPO Recruitment and Retention a priority. CSLEA is also urging the Department to focus its attention on gaining approval from CalHR and the Department of Finance for a HPO Recruitment and Retention Differential. Not only is this the most logical remedy, it would also provide the most security and safety for the patients, staff, officers and the community.
This is not the first time NSH has tried to replace HPO assignments with private security guards. In 2007, NSH contracted with two private security companies to stand watch on the kiosks surrounding the secure treatment area fence line, seven days a week from 2200-0600 hours. Since this was work that was historically and adequately performed by HPOs, CSLEA intervened by filing a Writ of Mandate at Sacramento Superior Court. As a result, the Department withdrew the private security contracts that were subject to the litigation.
If the Department does not cease and desist from contracting with private security guards, CSLEA is prepared to take similar legal action to what it took in 2007. As a result, to assess where DSH is at in the private security process, CSLEA has also requested additional materials related to the subject via a Public Records Act Request.
In the meantime, CSLEA will continue to work with the Department and the Administration on HPO Recruitment and Retention.